Saturday, May 26, 2007

Anti-Religious Bias In the House

During the House Judiciary Committee's questioning of former Department of Justice employee Monica Goodling on Wednesday, one Democratic member, clearly intending to use his five minutes to get straight to the bottom of the "scandal" at the Justice Department once and for all, cut through all the extraneous matters and got right to the heart of the matter:

REP. STEPHEN I. COHEN, D-TENN.:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ms. Goodling, I've read your vitae and it says that you grew up and you mostly went -- you went to public schools.Is that K through 12?


COHEN:And it says you went to Christian universities in part because of the value they placed on service.

What was the other part, that you chose Christian universities?

GOODLING:I chose them because I had a faith system, and in some cases -- I went to American University for my first year of law school.And then I transferred.

GOODLING:And I enjoyed studying with people that shares a similar belief system that I did.It didn't mean that there wasn't a lot of diversity of discussion, because in some cases I actually found the debate at Regent was much more vigorous than it was at American University my first year of law school.But I enjoyed being surrounded by people that had the same belief system.

COHEN:The mission of the law school you attended, Regent, is to bring to bear upon legal education and the legal profession the will of almighty God, our creator.What is the will of almighty God, our creator, on the legal profession?

GOODLING:I'm not sure that I could define that question for you.

COHEN:Did you ask people who applied for jobs as AUSAs anything about their religion?

GOODLING:No, I certainly did not.

COHEN:Ever had religion discussions come up?

GOODLING:Not to the best of my recollection.

COHEN:Is there a type of student, a type of person that you thought embodied that philosophy of Regent University that you sought out as AUSAs?

GOODLING:In most cases the people at Regent are good people trying to do the right thing who wanted to make a difference in the world.If the question is if I was looking for people like that, the answer is yes.I wasn't necessarily looking for people who shared a particular faith system.I don't have any recollection that that entered into my mind at any point.But certainly there are a lot of people who applied to work for this president because they share his same faith system and they did apply for jobs.

COHEN:Are there a lot of -- an inordinate number of people from Regent University Law School that were hired by the Department of Justice while you were there?

GOODLING:I think we have a lot more people from Harvard and Yale.

COHEN:That's refreshing.

(Cohen's crack in favor of a Harvard-Yale majority at Justice over Christian-educated lawyers drew a vocal response from the Republican side, including mention of the word, "bigot." Cohen continued unphased).

COHEN: Is it a fact -- are you aware of the fact that in your graduating class 50 to 60 percent of the students failed the bar the first time?

GOODLING:I'm not -- I don't remember the statistics, but I know it wasn't good. I was happy I passed the first time.

COHEN:Thank you. That was good.

The last bit, “that was good,” was muttered to himself, meant to show that her well-played reply about passing the bar on her first try was oh-so-clever, but wasn't going to fool this Congressman, who knew exactly what she was and what she was guilty of.

Immediately after Cohen's examination a lunch recess was called. First questioning after the committee re-convened went to Representative Randy Forbes, who immediately took the opportunity to place into perspective Cohen's disgraceful display.

REP. J. RANDY FORBES, R-VA.:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ms. Goodling, many of us feared this day would come, but we did not realize it would arrive so soon, when the fact that someone was a Christian would be the subject of a line of questioning as to how someone performed their job at the Department of Justice or any other agency in the United States government.

It's not a good day, nor a good sign of things to come, and I just hope those individuals watching this across the country realize the sea change that's taken place.

In addition, since my district is contiguous to Regent University, I'd like to point out that not only is the attorney general of Virginia a graduate of Regent University, but this year, Regent University students won the American Bar Association's Negotiation Competition February 11, not only beating out 220 teams, but also beating the former winner, Harvard University.
And the American Bar Association, not exactly a bastion of conservatism, has chosen Regent University to compete internationally in their competition.And that Regent has won the ABA's National Appellate Advocacy Competition 11 out of the last 14 years, including placing first for the best brief.

Cohen managed to establish two facts about himself, even if he produced nothing incriminating about Ms. Goodling: One, that he considered Ms. Goodling's committed Christian faith and background a self-evident character flaw that he finds personally repulsive, and, Two, that in his eyes her Christian faith disaqualifies her, and those similarly devout, from ever entering public service in the first place--disqualified for lacking both morals and intelligence. (We've always have Harvard grads and Yalies for that, thank God, or whatever deity Cohen may actually respect).

Cohen never had any context for these questions about Ms. Goodling's faith. Even his own examination made clear that it had never been a work-related issue. No one involved in this infernal investigation before or after Wednesday ever breathed this ever breathed the least suggestion that Ms. Goodling lacked either outstanding morals or brains in the performance of her job. Cohen simply regards Christians as ipso facto stupid.

Not least among the many, many ways this exchange signals something grievously wrong in the majority party is that so far not even the wildest slanderous of the Democratic withhunters on the Congressional committees conducting this witchhunt have suggested that anyone in the DOJ, even including Ms. Goodling, ever engaged in any religious-based discrimination against DOJ officials or employees. Cohen simply believed he could impeach Ms. Goodling's character by holding up to the shame and disapprobation of a sympathetic public as--ugh--a Christian.

As Rep. Forbes warned, the course signaled by this brazen display made Wednesday "not a good day, nor a good sign of things to come." Along with him, I also hope people watching across the country and following all this realize "the sea change that's taken place" in the first year of the new Congress of 2007.

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